Smartphone maker OnePlus apologizes for built-in camera that can see through clothes
Published: May 19, 2020 03:23 PM

Indian customers check out the OnePlus 6 smartphone during the India launch event. Photo: IC

 Chinese phone maker OnePlus on Tuesday apologized for releasing an infrared camera that can see through materials like plastic and polyester. The camera had raised controversy online over privacy concerns, and One Plus said the function would be disabled in a software update next week. 

The camera, built into the company's new OnePlus 8 Pro, is connected to the phone's infrared sensors and can see through materials like an X-ray when the "photochrom" color filter is enabled.

According to photos posted by users online, the camera can see through an Apple TV box, a Nintendo Switch remote and, in some cases, through fine clothing like T-shirts and trousers. 

Many users report that cotton is difficult to see through when using the filter.

"Our intention was for the infrared sensors to offer our users a unique photography style," the statement from One Plus read. "We've always attached paramount importance to user privacy, and to eliminate the possibility of privacy infringement in extreme cases, we will disable the function in the coming week."

Many users online say it is problematic for smartphones to be equipped with cameras that can potentially facilitate voyeuristic behavior in public. 

"It doesn't matter what the company's intentions were, the potential danger of the function is evident," read one of the comments. "Sexual harassment is not just targeting women. Both men and women should be scared of this function."